In 2013, EU governments gave the European Commission a mandate to negotiate about TTIP, a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the European Union. When starting, the two parties thought the negotiations would progress quickly. Now, three years later, the negotiation process seems to become long-lasting. Besides the European Commission, the European Parliament, business and trade unions, consumer-, health- and other public interest groups and the general public at least think they have something to say about TTIP. The negotiations turned out to be much more than just negotiations about economic terms. What are the different aspects of TTIP for our European Union?
Most of the students among us don’t mind it when the Dutch IRS provides us with the opportunity to pay our income taxes. On the contrary, young people usually get some income taxes back which they have paid in advance and students receive (taxfree) study grants. In fact, I would not be surprised if the tax on beer consumption is our biggest fiscal contribution. But as soon as you work fulltime and you didn’t succeed in starting a fictitious company in the British Virgin Islands, your annual tax declaration will be a painful experience. Are such often-heard complaints really true?
The world was in shock when an unexpected leak of 11.5 million files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca took place. The records were soon shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which started its own big investigation. The documents revealed the countless ways in which the richest of the world exploit mysterious offshore tax systems offered by the so called tax-heavens.
Yesterday the Financial Times wrote about ECB’s chairman Mario Draghi’s response to criticism from Germany. In Germany the opposition to the ECB’s low interest rate policy is growing. The low interest rate would fuel Euroskepticism. In response Draghi blames Germany from saving too much.
The ECB has again lowered its interest rate and expanded its Quantitative Easing (QE) program to monthly purchases of €80 billion. This all serves to boost economic activity in the Eurozone and to get the (real) economy going again. In theory, lower interest rates would increase consumption and investment, driving up economic activity. But will this really be the case? Or are there more fundamental problems at play in Europe?
Media were obsessed by it. It created headlines all over the world and was deemed a watershed moment in the big data era. We’re talking about the Apple vs. US government case. The charge? Apple was forced to supply data to the US government after the Boston bomb attacks had occurred. In order to trace the criminals responsible for this gruesome act. A just cause, it seemed. But Apple refused because of privacy reasons. No matter how urgent the case, the US government had no right to poke its nose into millions of people’s data.
Elections across the border or overseas, it seems to be a main topic for discussion. Applying economics to these political contests might then be an unusual approach. Though behavioural economics can help us a lot in explaining why people choose what they choose. The psychology behind our unconscious decision-making can be unravelled and rationalized with certain concepts. Our unconscious works quickly too. In how many seconds do you think you can guess the winner of elections?
Nokia was widely known for making decent unbreakable phones, but they seem to have lost the battle on the mobile phone market when smartphones were introduced. The downturn of Nokia was not something new to me, but honestly I did not know that Finland’s economy was in a bad shape as well. After I read an article about the absence of a recovery of the Finnish economy in The Economist, I decided to look for the connection between Nokia’s and Finland’s crises.